George Mason has a YouTube following of almost 600,000 people.
Hundreds of thousands of Harry Styles fans were duped by YouTuber George Mason into believing he was the singer.
Mason posted films copying vintage Styles Vines on TikTok under the name "suemonella."
A mystery TikTok account appeared in February with no description, photograph, or information regarding its existence. Only a few videos were released, including a hand reaching into a basket of fruit, legs strolling up a pink staircase and a montage of landscape views with feet running.
The account had only a few hundred followers until it shared a video of a plaque that claimed to be from Spotify celebrating musician Harry Styles's song "Watermelon Sugar" hitting a billion plays.
Styles' massive and devoted fan following became fixated on the account, with many believing the singer had put up a hidden page to promote his forthcoming album. Fans compared the attire worn in the TikToks to Styles' previous ensembles, pointing out that Styles was purportedly recently photographed carrying a backpack with a large Spotify box in purported paparazzi images. Others concocted elaborate conspiracy theories about how the account's name, "suemonella," translates to "dream of her" in Spanish, which they claimed could be a hint about a future release.
On TikTok, hundreds of thousands of people watched these fictitious films, and the hashtag "# Suemonella" was viewed over 4.5 million times. The page and the buzz surrounding it grew so popular that Newsweek, Highsnobiety, PopBuzz, and Rolling Stone published pieces about it.
But the account wasn't created by Styles or his staff; it was created by George Mason, a 24-year-old YouTuber with over 600,000 subscribers. He has a history of such pranks and labels himself on Instagram as "the biggest catfish." Mason introduced himself as "suemonella" in a YouTube video in mid-April, eliciting a mixed reaction from Styles' followers, ranging from laughter to outrage.
Mason explained the prank to Insider, "It all kind of started by accident."
Mason claimed he found a website for an LA-based fabrication studio that creates things for Spotify, among other firms like Fortnite and Microsoft, when searching for photographs of Spotify's billion-stream plaque on Google, where you could purchase a plaque for a specific song for $3,900.
Mason thought he'd stumbled onto something designed just for bands and their managers. He opted to purchase a plaque for "Watermelon Sugar" because he was a longstanding fan of Styles and had previously carried off a hoax on Douyin and TikTok, convincing a significant number of fans that he was the singer's cousin in early 2021.
As a method of explaining how much money he spent on the plaque, which he knew would be difficult, Mason claimed he intended to fool Styles' followers into thinking he was the artist.
He explained, "Harry Styles fans are very intense and very good investigators."
Mason set out to create a profile that might be mistaken for Styles'. For the account's first several TikToks, Mason replicated earlier vines that Styles produced in 2013, including one involving a fruit basket. To make it more authentic, Mason created a cross emblem on his hand to match Styles' tattoo.
He also pretended to be a paparazzi photographer. He acquired outfits that matched Styles' and got the help of a buddy to take images of him wandering around with a bag containing a Spotify player. To provide the impression that Styles was active on the network, he made sure the photo showed his phone open in his hand with TikTok open.
When none of this stuff took popularity, Mason booked a studio and filmed a few professional-looking TikToks with the plaque. He then resorted to emailing TikToks of the plaque to other Harry Styles fan pages in the hopes that they would share it with their followers, as well as posting the TikTok to a Styles Twitter fan page he had already constructed.
In a YouTube video he made explaining the prank, Mason said, "At this point, all hope was lost." "I didn't think anyone was going to believe me. All this was going to be wasted."
The video was then posted on February 25 by HSDaily, a Twitter fan page with 500,000 followers. Mason's false Styles TikTok account quickly gained notice from pop culture news sites and Styles fan forums, and other fan accounts soon followed.
"When it comes to Harry Styles specifically, he's a celebrity that obviously doesn't use a lot of social media, he's very quiet," he said. "When fans see pictures of him in public, him meeting fans in the street, they get very excited."
He claims that once one fan account shared it, it created a domino effect, with his phoney profile being shown all over the internet.
The "suemonella" account went from having almost no followers to having over 250,000 in a matter of days. As ardent Styles, fans formed hypotheses about the account, analysed the videos, and assessed what it might mean for Styles' next music.
In mid-April, Mason disclosed his identity as the account's creator in a two-part YouTube video, detailing how he arranged the images and acquired the plaque.
"There was quite a lot of outrage at first," he said. "I was getting a lot of angry comments calling me disgusting, saying it was creepy."
Mason claimed that after his second video explanation, followers realised there was "no malicious intent" behind the hoax, and the criticism subsided. Mason now intends to deactivate the "suemonella" account but wants to meet the real Harry Styles one day.
He said he would try and convince him to do a TikTok on the account. "I think that would be a nice end to the Suemonella account to round it all off: start with me pretending to be Harry, and then for Harry to complete the cycle of it all."